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Caesar and Cleopatra

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,026 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Caesar and Cleopatra satirizes Shakespeare's use of history and comments wryly on the politics of Shaw's own time, but the undertone of melancholy makes it one of his most affecting plays.
Paperback, 126 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1898)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,208)
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Manny
Cleopatra can't arrange a meeting with Caesar, so she rolls herself up in a large rug, and has herself delivered as a present. Security must have been really basic in those days.

There was a period when I was working for a boss who was never available during office hours. Either he wasn't there at all, or he was busy talking to someone else. People used to refer to the above episode quite frequently, and several of the female employees said they were considering having themselves delivered in ru
...more
J. Alfred
A prologue of sorts for Shakespeare's "Anthony and Cleopatra", it does go a long way toward introducing that play. Also a good place for Shaw to show how, for him, people don't need God, because, like Caesar, some men are basically gods already. Some unintentional irony in that, as he used a bunch of Christlike qualities and allusions for Caesar to drive his point home, he has Caesar using the words of Christ to claim legitimacy; sometimes the same words that Christ would use a few generations l ...more
Leslie
Interesting take on Cleopatra. My favorite parts, though, were in the stage directions and commentary. For example, in setting the scene of the first act (my underlining of bits I liked):

"A great radiance of silver fire, the dawn of a moonlit night, is rising in the east. The stars and the cloudless sky are our own contemporaries, nineteen and a half centuries younger than we know them; but you would not guess that from their appearance. Below them are two notable drawbacks of civilization: a pa
...more
David Sarkies
Aug 02, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love a bit of wit and philosophy
Recommended to David by: I stumbled upon him in a bookshop
Shelves: romance
Shaw's masterpiece
2 August 2014

The problem I face when I approach this play is that there is so much in it I simply do not know where to start. There is the character of Julius Caesar that Shaw seems to capture perfectly, from the wise and kind leader to the man who would repetitively show mercy to his enemies: which resulted in his own destruction. There is also the idea of the new empire meeting the old empire, and the elder statesman meeting the child queen and the interaction between the tw
...more
Greg
Shaw’s retelling of Caesar and Cleopatra demonstrates admirably both Shaw’s philosophy, as well as showcases his tremendous gifts as a storyteller. Shaw depicts Cleopatra as a woman who, out of military necessity, appeals to Caesar. Caesar is depicted as a Realist, and a man of action who values good government and unsentimentality. Caesar is depicted as a man without vengeance and little emotion. He is fair and hard…and opportunistic. He destroys evidence that would have Septimius executed, yet ...more
Kelly
From Shaw's essential notes on the play: "...there is the illusion of 'increased command over Nature,' meaning that cotton is cheap and that ten miles of country road on a bicycle have replaced four on foot. But even if man's increased command over Nature included any increased command over himself (the only sort of command relevant to his evolution into a higher being), the fact remains that it is only by running away from the increased command over Nature to country places where Nature is stil ...more
Anthony
“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.” (Act III p 70)

Any work by Shaw is rich with aphoristic statements as noted above; for Shaw is play-write of observation deftly capable of inserting social criticism into the voices of his characters. He uses this skill to tell the tale of Caesar and Cleopatra as a period piece written by an Irishman criticizing British Imperialism at the cusp of the first World War through the portrayal of Caesar’s R
...more
John
The third play in a compendium of four by GBS that I recently picked up is equally delightful to the first two that I have read. In Ceasar and Cleopatra the most striking aspects of the play, apart from the ever present well reknown wit of GBS, is the character development. Throughout the work Ceasar is a constant, not the glorified hero of many a work, but a character portrayed as a common man - a very successful, competent, resourceful one - but a man presented with warts and all (or in his c ...more
Goddess Of Blah
I read this play soon after finishing The Devil's Disciple . Its brilliant. All of Shaw's plays that I have so far read have left me chuckling.
If you like Oscar Wilde, then you will definitely appreciate the witty dialogue, incisive humour, “philosophy” and cynical observations that dominate Shaw's plays.

These are some quotes from Shaw's plays:

“All great truths begin as blasphemies.”

“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.”

“The reasonable m
...more
Carrie D.
I laughed out loud a lot but George Bernard Shaw doesn't seem like he likes women very much or he's being satirical idk I'm not that smart.
Mariana Mourato
I did not like the way Cleopatra was represented - as a silly, childish, spoilt brat most of the time, and a rather indecisive and superstitious queen in training the rest of it. She is one of the few great female literary characters in history, and this is what Shaw does with her? My admittedly high expectations were just crushed the minute she opened her mouth. While I can understand his reasons for it, which he explains at the end of the book, I still can't help but feel slightly betrayed by ...more
Ruby
There is a continual compare and contrast between Cleopatra and Caesar throughout the entire play. Touchingly innocent in many ways and very tender. Caesar's relationship to Cleopatra is at times like a lover's but whenever she acts up he is strongly paternal. They are very similar in many ways. Staunchly loyal, with very firm ideas how a ruler should be.
Jim
I was first introduced to this play by George Bernard Shaw when I saw Gabriel Pascal's movie version back in the 1960s with Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh, and Stewart Granger. Even with my familiarity of the story, it was fun to see how Shaw handled by clever word play between Caesar and the young Egyptian queen. Caesar and Cleopatra is probably not Shaw's best play, but it has always been one of my faves.
stormie
shaw is pretty much my new favorite writer, mostly because he's undeniably sassy--and unashamed to be so.
Elijah
I cant fully understand exactly what this novel was trying to express, preach or satiri!!ze. I started reading it because it seemed very witty, short and simple. Then it just fell apart into uneven nonsense.

Shaw has the ability to create likable characters and witty dialogue. The story took on the disguise of a simple war of worlds story: where the protaganist's life is changed, ultimately for the better by a person with completely opposite ideals and standards. Then it veered off into uninspir
...more
Stuart
I wish I liked Shaw more than I do. With some exceptions (namely CANDIDA) I tend to find him overly-long, pompous and, despite his own claims, sort of willfully pessimistic about the human condition. In this play he presents a somewhat amusing but ultimately kind of annoying vision of Cleopatra as a girl-woman on the brink of maturity, easily infatuated and easily controlled by the aging, proud Caesar- who comes off as the kind of vain twit you expect to meet in a drawing room in a Forster novel ...more
Deke
I can see how this play might have been a morality tale of Britain's colonial operations a century ago, but it reads today as cerebral and not particularly insightful. Perhaps I'm overly put off by the use of historical figures.
Lisa
I haven't read a play in quite some time so it took me a little while to get back into the flow of it. This was pretty good though :) I hadn't read a Shaw play before. If you're into classic plays and historical storylines then I definitely recommend it.
Farrahnanda Farrahnanda
Udah selesai baca dari tahun 2012. Beli di tempat buku-buku seken. Lumayan ceritanya. Masih nyangkut sedikit-sedikit ceritanya. Gaya ceritanya biasa, sih. Yaudah, gitu aja. *ga bisa bikin review yang jelas lol*
Alan Walker
LMFAO! Boy, oh boy, oh boy! Caesar covering his balding head with a crest of leaves and Cleopatra giggling at his insecurity. Rufio's straight man is just hilarious.
m1 Gwen
I didn't love this book. I read it for English, and I don't think that I would have otherwise. It was occasionally witty, which I appreciated, but it just wasn't a subject that I was particularly interested in, or in a format that I particularly liked.
David Williams
Brilliant! Be sure to check out the BBC Production starring Christopher Plummer as Caesar.
~Sara~
I think some of this play was lost on me because I don't know much about the real history of that time. Still a very enjoyable read anyway.
Favourite lines:
Caesar: Resent! O thou foolish Egyptian, what have I to do with resentment? Do I resent the wind when it chills me, or the night when it makes me stumble in the darkness? Shall I resent youth when it turns from age, and ambition when it turns from servitude? To tell me such a story as this is but to tell me that the sun will rise tomorrow.
Abi
I did not like the portrayal of Cleopatra in this version-I did not feel that it was realistic. Her character was not pleasant and I found that I did not care too much what happened to her. Additionally, it eliminated important historical events, such as Cleopatra's first child, and possibly the relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra. It probably did not help that I read the introduction in which Shaw compared this play to Shakespeare and I was expecting something different.
Laila Andre
Loved it - very cheeky Cleopatra. Found Caesar to be more of a father figure which was a bit disappointing.
Hannah
Despite some interesting characterization throughout, there's a lot of this that is just uninteresting to me.
Miriam
Think you are going to get romance and politics between Julius Caesar cavorting with Cleopatra? What you get is Shaw's teetotaling, vegetarian, socialism, caustic nips about the heels of Empire (British) in the guise of Rome and Egypt, a celibate Julius, and a whiny Cleopatra. (It was still fun to read though.)
Reginacm
"Who are those we love? Only those whom we do not hate: all people are strangers and enemies to us except those we love."

"Were treachery, falsehood, and disloyalty left unpunished, society must become like an arena full of wild beasts, tearing one another to pieces."
...more
Edisty Friskanesya
Hmm karena katanya disadur dari sebuah naskah drama,,yasudah.
di versi bahasa indonesianya ini, Kisah Cleopatra dan Julius Caesar hanya diceritakan beberapa fragmennya saja. Dari penggambaran latar, adegan, dan dialog pun...memang terasa sekali 'ini drama loh'. jadi yaa saya ga terlalu terkesan bacanya :|
Kayla
This play by Shaw was humorous and entertaining. And unlike the beloved Shakespearean plays, it is much more straight forward and to the point aside from its humor. Even if you have not read Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare(like me XS)you will still enjoy this play greatly.
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George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama. Over the course of his life he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his plays address prevailing social problems, but ...more
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“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.” 164 likes
“...a man of great common sense and good taste, meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage.” 35 likes
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